Monday, we start at Musselburgh. Mig Des Taillons made the trip over to Musselburgh from Ireland worthwhile when justifying favouritism. There was a second Irish winner on the card as Stuart Crawford took the bumper with Kinnegad lad who completed a double on the day for champion jockey Brian Hughes. There was a double for trainer Sandy Thomson with Get Out The Gate and Brotherly Company. At Chelmsford, John Gosden took the opener with Miss Finland however the rest of the card was abandoned due to fog. At Plumpton, there was a double for jockey Tom Cannon with Thibault and Smurphy Enki. At Wolverhampton, there was a treble for Rossa Ryan with Amber Island, Richard R H B and Flyin Solo.
Tuesday, we start at Punchestown. October's Irish Cesarewitch winner Cape Gentleman (5/4f) made a winning debut over jumps at Punchestown today as the Emmet Mullins trained, Brian Hayes partnered gelding landed the Maiden Hurdle. Eklat De Rire returned to action with a fine winning chase debut at Punchestown today as he provided trainer Henry De Bromhead and jockey Rachael Blackmore with the second leg of doubles, De Bromhead and Blackmore had earlier won with Gabbys Cross.
At Uttoxeter, there were doubles for Olly Murphy and Aidan Coleman with Lord Of Kerak and No Risk Des Flos. At Fontwell, Nassalam is set to go for Grade One honours in the Finale Junior Hurdle at Chepstow later this month after confirming the impression of his debut display in Britain with a second wide-margin success. It formed part of a treble for Gary Moore completed by Call Off The Dogs and Bridle Loanan. At Wolverhampton, John Gosden was on target with Loving Dream. At Southwell, there was a treble for Mick Appleby with Spring Romance, Thrave and Swinton Noon.
Wednesday, we start at Lingfield. The feature race went to Queen's Course for David O'Meara. At Hexham, Bushypark made it three wins on the spin under Thomas Dowson. At Kempton, the feature race went to Imperium for Roger Charlton.
Thursday, we start at Newcastle. There was a double for Ben Haslam with Laskadine and Scoop The Pot who was advised 1pt each-way at 9/2 to our members. At Taunton, Paricolor made it three wins on the spin for David Pipe. At Warwick, Daryl Jacob praised the attitude of Zambella, who maintained her unbeaten record over fences with a front-running success in the feature Wigley Group Lady Godiva Mares’ Novices’ Chase. At Chelmsford, there was a double for Phil McEntee with Split Down South and Rockesbury. At Tramore, Shark Hanlon is on target for his best-ever season and sent out his 19th winner of the campaign when Teescomponentsyess recorded a shock success in the Ladies bumper. Teescomponentsyess proved friendless on his first start here for Hanlon drifting right out to also go off at 28/1 having shown little in two outings in England earlier this year.
Away from the track. Former hurdling star Apple’s Jade was sold for 530,000 euros at the Goffs December National Hunt Sale on Thursday. Hollie Doyle added a further two titles to her excellent 2020 haul on Thursday afternoon, being named the Sports Journalists’ Association Sportswoman of the Year, before being crowned Flat Jockey of the Year at the HWPA Derby Awards.
Friday, we start at Cheltenham. Gina Andrews will remain in hospital overnight after suffering a heavy fall on Friday afternoon. Mister Fisher claimed top honours in The Peterborough Chase for Nicky Henderson. Irish raider Some Neck got up in the shadow of the post to land a thrilling Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase for Galaxy trainer John McConnell. This was a fantastic effort from John and his team getting a horse from Willie Mullins. The feature race went to Kerry Lee with Storm Control who was spectacular from the front. At Doncaster, Ecco was on target for Paul Nicholls. At Bangor, Snuff Box was on target for Venetia Williams.
At Dundalk Ronan Whelan brought up a four-timer on the night and it was a treble for Michael Halford. The day ended well for John McConnell as Kudbegood . Siobhan Rutledge was on board again and produced her mount to lead inside the final furlong and record a half-length win over Muraahin. At Punchestown, Captain Guinness put a disappointing chase debut at Tipperary well behind him when landing the odds for Henry De Bromhead.
Saturday, we start at Cheltenham. Chatham Street Lad ran out an impressive winner of the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup giving jockey Darragh O’Keeffe the biggest success of his career. The trainer Michael Winters is no stranger to big success. Chatham Street Lad beat Midnight Shadow by 15 lengths, with the northern raider in turn well clear of Benatar and Good Boy Bobby in fourth. Winters said: “It was outstanding — it was a local jockey as well. He has come down to school on the horse lately and the horse has improved.“The owners have always had horses in and they have a couple of pubs locally and things. In fairness, he won well in Cork (last time out). This is spectacular.“I’d be very humble about this. Racing is very special, and the horses are treated so kind and people don’t realise it. It would be great to give something back as we are only passing through.“I was confident we would run a blinder. Once he got over the last fence, I was hopeful after that. He is not Flat-bred he was bred for National Hunt, that’s why he was bought and he will keep developing.
The rest of the Cheltenham card. Song For Someone continued his progression when just holding off Silver Streak in the Unibet International Hurdle. Trained by Tom Symonds, the five-year-old was dropping back in trip having won the Coral Hurdle last time out, but he had to dig deep on the run to the line. Several hurdles were omitted due to low sun and there were plenty in with chances turning into the straight. The lack of hurdles was very frustrating. Goshen, the 6-4 favourite, had been keen throughout and got to the front coming down the hill but faded out of contention quickly to be last. It looks a long way back for Goshen now. Fusil Raffles took a step up in trip in his stride when showing an abundance of stamina to claim the Jockey Club Cheltenham And SW Syndicate Novices’ Chase. The two-mile handicap went to Sky Pirate for Jonjo O'Neill. Sky Pirate finally put it all together he was advised 1pt each-way at 5/1 to our members.
Make Good coped with a step up in trip and class with aplomb as he sprinted clear in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham. Trained by Galaxy trainer John McConnell, who won the cross country event on Friday with Some Neck, Make Good had been running over two miles to date but leapt to three on this occasion on testing ground. The 12-1 shot beat Pats Fancy by seven lengths, with Ask A Honey Bee back in third to earn a 25-1 quote for the Albert Bartlett in March with Betfair.“It was a bit of unknown about the trip, but he won over a mile and six furlongs on the Flat on heavy in October,” said Johnson.“John said he was pretty sure he wanted at least two and a half. It just happens he has run over two so far over hurdles — he just said the three was a bit of an unknown.“On this ground, we were not going to go too quick, so at least it wasn’t a slog. He is a very tough, straightforward horse and he did it nicely. This was a fantastic weekend for John McConnell who has a brilliant strike rate at Cheltenham. It is brilliant to see one of our trainers doing so well.
At Doncaster, Monmiral staked a claim for Cheltenham Festival honours when maintaining his unbeaten record in the bet365 Summit Juvenile Hurdle. Fergal O’Brien reached a personal best of 64 winners in a season when Hurricane Harvey took the Grade Two bet365 December Novices’ Chase. Trainer Tom Lacey teamed up with Robbie Power for a double with L’Incorrigible and Vado Forte. The finale went to Rocky's Treasure for Kim Bailey seeing off Give Me A Copper. At Hereford, Kapga De Lily took the feature for Venetia Williams. At Fairyhouse, Sizing Pottsie made the most of a drop-in class to win the Boylesports This Is Betting Handicap Chase at Fairyhouse. Representing the Supasundae connections of Jessica Harrington and the Potts family, who retired their star hurdler this week, he had the race won turning into the straight. Sizing Pottsie (7-2) jumped the last two fences in a slightly strange manner, but Paddy Kennedy kept him up to his work to beat Entoucas by six lengths. Jockey Daniel Holden received a 10-day suspension for his ride on the Henry De Bromhead trained third-placed Raya Time in the beginners chase at Fairyhouse today. The gelding finished third under a hands and heels ride, finishing 13 lengths behind the runner-up, with the Stewards later noting the trainer's explanation and suspending the jockey under Rule 212(A), which covers running and riding offences.
Sunday, the racing in the UK was very poor and to top it all no Irish racing. At Southwell, Kim Bailey was delighted to see Balleticon make a successful return from a 705-day absence in the Maiden Hurdle. At Carlisle, Captain Zebo took the feature. At Sha Tin, Ryan Moore ended his year on a high on Sunday as a first victory in the Longines Hong Kong Sprint completed a career ‘Grand Slam’ of wins at the big international meeting. Moore had earlier struck for a third time in the Hong Kong Vase courtesy of the Aidan O’Brien-trained Mogul before the Japanese-trained Danon Smash gave him a landmark success. Aidan O’Brien’s Magical could finish only third as Normcore claimed top honours in the Longines Hong Kong Cup.